Review: Finnair Business Class New York to Helsinki (JFK-HEL)

Finnair A330-300 business class seat

Introduction

Flight Details:

  • Date of flight: July 26, 2019
  • Where: New York (“JFK”) to Helsinki (“HEL”)
  • Flight time: 8 hours 5 minutes
  • Flight #: AY6
  • Seat: 3D

My final destination was Brussels and there were several options to get there on a OneWorld carrier. Unfortunately, they all required a connecting flight somewhere in Europe. I could have flown British Airways via London Heathrow, but with a looming strike I didn’t want to take any chances. I heard great things about Finnair from several giraffe friends so jumped at the opportunity to try them out when I found an attractive flight deal.

Cabin

Finnair currently flies their older Airbus A330-300 from New York to Helsinki. They previously used their far superior Airbus A350 on this route, but have since downgraded the equipment and reserve the A350 for their routes to Asia.

The seats in the business class cabin are in a staggered 2-2-1 and 1-2-1 configuration, which feels dated compared to the reverse herringbone setup offered by many of Finnair’s competitors. They offer 60″ of pitch, but are just 21″ wide, which felt a bit claustrophobic especially when in the fully lie-flat position given the narrow footwell. You’ll find the seats upholstered in light blue fabric. The pillows and blankets are lime green / white, which provides some nice contrast.

Marimekko blanket

Recommended Seats:

The cabin configuration doesn’t offer a great deal of privacy so I highly recommend selecting 2A, 4A or 6A, which offer more storage and personal space or seats 2-6L if you’re traveling solo. On the other hand if you’re traveling with a giraffe or human companion I recommend 2-6D/H. Seats in the first row are close to the lavatory and the seats in the last row are close to the galley so should be avoided.

Finnair Airbus A330-300 seating configuration – Source: Expert Flyer

In-Flight Entertainment

The seats have a rather small 12.1″ in-flight entertainment system. You can check out a full listing of the movies, TV, music and games ahead of your flight here.

Finnair IFE

Amenity Kit

Finnair partners with Marimekko, a Finnish home furnishings, textiles, and fashion company based in Helsinki to design their livery and amenity kits. I would describe their design as whimsical.

The amenity kits contain an eye mask, toothbrush crafted from environmentally friendly cornstarch-based bioplastic / toothpaste, ear plugs and moisturizer / lip balm from Dutch cosmetics brand Rituals. Slippers / socks, shaving kit, mouth wash, hairbrush and makeup remover are available on request, which helps to further reduce Finnair’s environmental footprint.

If there are any unwanted items in your amenity kit you can return them to a flight attendant. Unused items are donated to women’s shelters. Finnair is the only carrier I’m aware of who does this and think it’s a fantastic idea.

Marimekko Amenity Kit

Service

Service was good on this flight, but a bit impersonal. The flight attendants and purser failed to greet me by name or thank me for being a OneWorld elite member.

The service started with a choice of pre-departure beverage (“PDB”). Finnair serves Joseph Perrier NV Cuvée Royale Brut Champagne on this route, which retails for around $45 a bottle. The PDB was served in beautiful Ultima Thule glassware. American Airlines could learn a thing or two from Finnair in this department.

Champagne PDB

Food and Beverage Menu

Menus were available at your seat upon boarding and featured a fairly extensive beverage list. In comparison to the beverage list the food menu was fairly limited.

Pro tip: You can check out the menu for your Finnair flight ahead of time here. You also have the option of pre-ordering your meal, which guarantees you’ll receive your first choice.

Cocktail / Mocktail List
Champagne / White Wine List
White Wine List Continued
Red Wine List
Red / Dessert Wine List
Port, Spirits and Beer List
Coffee, Juice, Soda and Tea List
Food Menu
Food Menu Continued

Food and Beverage

Shortly after takeoff drink orders were taken. I selected the Arctic Blue Gin and Tonic, which was excellent. It was accompanied by mixed nuts served in a Ultima Thule glass ramekin. The nuts were cold. The horror!

Cold Nuts!

I pre-ordered the poached salmon with creamy lemon-dill sauce and jasmine rice. I was given the option of appetizers and chose the shrimps with pickled vegetables, strawberries and basil oil. Pickled vegetables are especially good for giraffe’s gut bacteria.

Both the appetizer and main were good, but not outstanding. Everything was served at once, which I appreciate as it reduces the meal time for short transatlantic crossings. I decided to try the Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the salmon, but it wasn’t very good.

Poached Salmon

Following the meal I reclined my seat into the fully lie flat position and managed to get 5-hours of sleep. I find the ability to get some solid sleep is a good quality indicator for international business class.

About 60-minutes prior to landing the flight attendant asked if I wanted breakfast, but informed me there was only one choice available – the cold smoked salmon, camembert and cream cheese . I’m not the biggest fan of smoked salmon so really only got it so I could take a picture. I also ordered the blueberry juice, which was delicious.

Smoked Salmon Breakfast with Blueberry Juice

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Approved

The hard product is dated, but the soft product exceeded my expectations. I loved the Marimekko glassware and am seriously considering purchasing some for my house.

The flight attendants could improve their service by greeting passengers by name and recognizing OneWorld elite members, but other than that the service was friendly and attentive.

If your final destination is Finland or you’re looking to switch it up from American, British Airways or Iberia for a OneWorld European connection Finnair business class is a good choice.

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